Rogue Polling in Brighton and Hove

Since May 2007 the Greens have topped the poll in every election in Brighton Pavilion including City Council elections (May 2007), the Regency ward by-election (November 2007), the Euro Elections across Brighton and Hove (June 2009) and in the most recent poll taken in the Brighton Pavilion constituency (December 2009). During this time, the Green vote reached an all time high of 35% in last December’s ICM poll. (You can read Jason Kitcat’s wonderful graphs here).

In contrast, Labour  have haemorrhaged votes since the 2005 general election when they polled 35.4%. In the European Elections in June 2009, Labour were at their lowest ebb, polling just 14.5% of the city-wide vote in Brighton and Hove.

I mention this because earlier this evening I received, from an unnamed source (I wish I could say whom), a poll conducted by Kindle Research, established in 2005 by Paul Hutchings, a man of no real previous experience in the polling or research of voter intentions. It is one of the most bizarre and suspicious polls I have ever seen, and most definitely an example of rogue polling.

The poll, to be published in the Brighton Argus newspaper this weekend, will cause heads to turn from respected pollsters, of whom I would be interested to hear feedback.

Kindle Research sampled 1000 adults living across Pavilion, Kemptown and Hove. This translates to a sample of around 333 per constituency (actually 336 in Pavilion), exactly 200 less interviewees than December’s ICM poll for Pavilion, thus meaning a greater margin of error in Kindle’s poll to ICM’s.

At no point, in any of the questioning, was a prompt made for any party, neither was any mention made of Pavilion, Kemptown or Hove constituencies. Kindle Research, in their infinite polling glory, asked this: “Which party would you vote for if there was a general election tomorrow?” Is it just me or does this seem a simplistic line of questioning for this poll, given the exceptional context of Brighton Pavilion? Would this not abstract from everything that’s characteristic of Brighton Pavilion and it’s calibre of candidates? I would be interested to know the thoughts of respected pollsters such as Anthony Wells, Andrew Hawkins, Nick Sparrow and Mike Smithson.

According to Kindle’s poll, in Brighton Pavilion, if the general election was held tomorrow, 26% of voters would vote Labour, 16% would vote for the Conservatives, 12% for the Greens, 5% for the Liberal Democrat, 1% said UKIP, 1% said ‘other’, 11% said they would not vote, 19% were undecided and 7% refused. So, a huge 37 % of those that took part in the poll refused to even pin their mast to one of the political parties. Can this be the outcome of well conducted poll and a telling sample? Can these figures be taken seriously, especially off the back of previous polling figures in Brighton Pavilion from the European Elections and the recent ICM poll? Once again, very suspicious stuff.

But, it gets even more worrying.

On page six of Kindle’s ‘findings’, it becomes perfectly clear for whom Paul Hutchings is drawing his analysis for, implying that Pavilion, Kemp Town and Hove, are all straight fights between Labour and the Conservatives. The interpretation of the poll is most certainly an attack on the Greens. No attempt whatsoever is made to make the poll seem credible, certainly not credible enough to be used on electoral literature.

This poll provokes several questions, and answers are needed-

1. How did the poll come about and who commissioned it?

2. What is Paul Hutchings relationship with the editor of the Argus?

3. Why is Kimble Research who, by all appearances look like a market research outfit, carrying out public opinion research, three months before a General Election and in three hotly contested constituencies?

4.  Does this poll bring into question research undertaken by those who adhere to none of the standards of the British Polling Council?

5. Why is the Argus publishing a poll from a research outfit who adhere to none of the British Polling Council’s standards? Do they not care about their own reputation as a credible news source for the people of Brighton and Hove?

Respected pollsters should be worried by rogue polling from researchers who have little or no experience in polling on voting intentions. Paul Hutching’s interpretation of the results suggests a bias in favour of Labour and a pathetic indifference to the Greens. Somewhat surprisingly, he makes no attempt to try and understand why his own poll differed so greatly with that from ICM in December and previous results in Brighton and Hove, e.g. the returns from the European Elections last June.

If this type of poll is aimed to be used on election material, without scrutiny from professional pollsters, it could set a precedent that any type of poll, if not adhering to the standards of the British Polling Council, is an acceptable campaign tool.

Everyone, including all the candidates in Brighton Pavilion, Brighton Kemptown and Hove, would be wise to steer clear of using the Kindle Research polling data in their election campaign. Rogue polling does not deserve any air of credibility, it simply undermines the rigorous,  academic and high-standard polling from the likes of YouGov, ComRes and Populus.

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by lmwalter: Evidence of rogue polling in #Brighton and Hove http://bit.ly/azq67h

  2. 2

    […] other reason, I don’t think the Greens in Brighton should be too worried about this new poll. Some have speculated that the poll was paid for by someone with an interest in creating a bad story for the Greens. My […]

  3. 3

    James Donaldson said,

    Another FIVE years of Gordon Brown would be the most depressing election result in history. They are trying to spook people with fear and lies (Have you seen the lies on Nancy Twatts literature?). Labour have destroyed Britain’s finances for a generation and blamed America, Bankers etc, All typical Labour spin. Gordon Brown de-regulated the banks, and over-borrowed during a boom, he caused the meltdown then took credit for preventing it, using OUR money. The debt tap has been left running to postpone the huge cuts until after the election. It’s all about power crazy, Brown while the country burns. Ex-Labour voter who will be voting Tory. Vote Blue or you get Brown! Any other vote is a waste.

    • 4

      Luke Walter said,

      Hi James,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Labour certainly missed an opportunity to reign in the markets and to put the pressure on those who caused this mess. The Green Party had been advocating a ‘Green New Deal’ in the style o FDR’s active-state response to the 1930s Depression.

      The Green New Deal would have invested the bank bailout mony into new technologies, new manufacturing and a new green industry.

      The closure of the Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight last summer is a prime example of Gordon Brown’s failure to get to grips with the kind of industry we need in this country. Britain can be a leader in the manufacture of wind turbines and tidal energy technology as well. We could have re-trained an entire generation in skilled, well-paid jobs, but this was a missed opportuity.

      We could have had heavy investment in re-insulating every home in Britain to ensure that the elderly and most vulnerable would no longer have to pay excessive heating bills. We could have had progressive legislation to address the wealth inequality we have in this country.

      The Tories aren’t promising anything different. The only thing they’re promising is for the cuts to be quicker and deeper. I use this quote often, but I think it’s incredibly relevant. David Blanchflower, a world respected economist, has compared recession and economic crisis to a war, in a war you don’t budget and you certainly don’t cut back, you throw everything you have at it. This is what FDR did during the Depression, this is what Atlee and the 1945 Labour Government did (we got the NHS, a real national pension scheme, social housing projects, etc.), and this is what the next Government should be doing.

      No vote should ever be considered a wasted one. The only wasted vote is for something you don’t believe in. We will never get the kind of fair, proportional voting system we need if everyone did exactly what the two main parties tell them to do. Yes, the next Government might be a Labour or Tory one, but do we always want that? What about a Government in 2020 or 2030? Do we not want to see something different to more of the same? I know I do.

      As a society we can do better and we can only do that if we take risks, if we don’t always do what we’re told to and if we actually vote for the kind of policies we want to see in action.

      So, by all means vote for the Conservatives if that is what you believe in but, if you want to one day see something different, then take a close look at the Tories, take close look at Labour and take a close look at the Greens as well.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

      Best wishes,

      Luke

    • 5

      Eric Baird said,

      Yes, Brown was too close to the banks. But Cameron was even worse.

      But just after Northern Rock went down, there was an exchange between the two in the HoC about it. From memory: Cameron poked Brown about why he hadn’t done more to regulate the banks, and wasn’t it his fault for under-regulating, and Brown turned around slightly incredulously and asked whether Cameron hadn’t personally voted against every piece of banking regulation legislation that he’d put before the house (y’know, on the grounds that governments shouldn’t tie up highly successful money-earning businesses with red tape).

      Yes, well, waffled Cameron, that’s all beside the point, because //I// wasn’t Prime Minister …

      And I thought, yeah, right. You still had a vote, you exercised that vote, you were leader of the country’s second most powerful political party, you campaigned against government regulation of banking, and you presided over a party machine that told all party’s MP’s to vote against banking regulation. So no share of the responsibility there, then …

      That’s the moment I lost any residual respect for Cameron’s ability to behave like a grown-up.

      I think this election is interesting because we have three different main choices, all flawed for different reasons. Cameron’s an old-school, hectoring, finger-pointing politician whose two main priorities in the current financial crisis seem to be “Lifeboats for the Rich”, and blaming Labour for the world economic crisis. Brown looks totally knackered and burnt out, and seems to be refusing to get involved in actual politics even when he has a duty to (he also has a flair for occasionally picking a completely bizarre policy like ID cards and sticking to it come what may … a trait he probably borrowed from Tony Blair). Clegg comes across as apparently decent but managerially naive – how do you limit immigrants to particular areas of the UK without imposing area restrictions that sound like they’re borrowed from the old South African “township” laws?

      So actually, the idea that 37% of those polled in an uncertain constituency might not have decided which party to vote for yet might be accurate. A lot of people will want to vote tactically, but the political landscape’s changed so much since December that I think that quite a few people will wait until almost the last day before finally deciding who to vote for. And some of the people who HAVE decided won’t want to say, in case their polled opinion motivates others to vote tactically against their preferred candidate. So it’s tricky.


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